Print ISBN: 978-1-64265-756-2
# of Pages: 600
# of Volumes: 2
Print List Price: $295
e-ISBN: 978-1-64265-759-3
eBook User Price: $295
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Defining Documents in American History: The American Economy

Editor: Michael Shally-Jensen, Ph.D.
March 2021

From the American Revolution to the present day, our financial institutions and financial practices remain among the strongest influences on our American history and values. The primary documents in this set reveal the history and historical significance of the political and social currents that have affected America’s economy and have had an impact on the fortunes of individuals, businesses and corporations, banks and lending institutions, the stock market, and the federal government.

Defining Documents in American History: The American Economy offers in-depth analysis of 89 primary source documents, tracing the history of the United States economy from the American Revolution to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic of present day. These include book excerpts, speeches, political debates, testimony, court rulings, legal texts, legislative acts, essays, newspaper and magazine articles, and interviews. The first volume of this set focuses on commerce, controversy, booms, and busts prior to the Great Depression. The second volume is dedicated to the Great Depression through business and economics in recent decades. These documents, and more, provide an overview of the history and contemporary issues surrounding the American Economy, past and present.

The material is organized into five sections, and each section begins with a brief introduc­tion that examines the titular subject before exploring a variety of historical documents.

  • Commerce & Controversy in Earlier Times includes documents that track the early history of the American economy, including Federalist 35 (Concerning the General Power of Taxation); Thomas Jefferson on the Constitutionality of a National Bank; and the Discovery of Gold in California.
  • Booms & Busts in a Growing Economy includes documents that trace the post-Civil War economy, such as the Bell Telephone Patent; the Populist Party Platform; Theodore Roosevelt on Corporate Trusts; the Federal Reserve Act; and the Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • Crash, Burns and Recovery in the Great Depression follows the American economy’s transformation during the Great Depression. This section begins with President Hoover’s Response to the Stock Market Crash and includes President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chat Outlining the New Deal, FDR on Social Security, and Schechter Poultry Corporation v. the United States.
  • Mid-Century Modern follows the last years of World War II and the early 1960s and includes such pivotal documents as the Lend-Lease Act, Eisenhower’s Message to Congress Regarding a National Highway Program, and the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958.
  • Business and Economics in Recent Decades provides such important documents as Bill Gates’ Letter to Hobbyists, the North American Free Trade Agreement, Apply Announces the iPhone, and Congressional Leaders on a Second COVID-19 Relief Package.

Each Historical Document is supported by a critical essay, written by historians and teachers, that includes a Summary Overview, Defining Moment, About the Author, Document Analysis, and Essential Themes. An important feature of each essay is a close reading of the primary source that develops broader themes, such as the author’s rhetorical purpose, social or class position, point of view, and other relevant issues. Each essay also includes a Bibliography and Additional Reading section that provides suggestions for further readings and research.

Appendixes in this book include:

  • Chronological List which arranges all documents by year;
  • Web Resources, an annotated list of websites that offer valuable supplemental resources;
  • Bibliography lists of helpful articles and books for further study

About the Series

The Defining Documents series provides in-depth commentary and analysis on the most important primary source documents in the United States and the world. The Defining Documents series is perfect for students, those researching a particular era, or anyone interested in world history. Visit for more information about additional titles in this series.

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